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The Ones That Got Away: Readers’ Tales Of Lost Chevys - Thunder Road

Jim Campisano Aug 25, 2014
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Back in the August issue, I wrote about a ’69 Camaro Pace Car convertible I almost purchased before it was snapped up by the owner’s father. The memory of losing out on this slick ride haunts me almost a quarter-century later. Each time I see one on the street or at a show with that period-perfect orange houndstooth interior, I can picture myself cruising in it with the top down and a big grin on my face. I guess it wasn’t meant to be.

At the end of that column, I asked the readers for their stories of the Chevy that got away. Here are some answers, both from you and two of my most valued contributors: Doug Marion and Mark Lundquist.

Doug Marion: “In 1973, I was 29 and living in the Seattle area. Our neighbor, John Hamlot was an officer with the Seattle Police Department. One evening, he stopped by to see if I would be interested in buying a zero-mile, 1967 L-88 Corvette coupe, white over red. The original owner special-ordered it, then trailered it home and disassembled it to prep it for drag racing. Sadly, it never was reassembled. Officer Hamlot spotted it while on-duty. It was for sale as-is, apart, for $3,000. Not having the money, I called Ed Lincoln, a Corvette wrecking yard proprietor who lived a few blocks away. He bought the L-88 the next day, then sold everything to a customer in Minnesota (as I recall for $5,000). He then sold it all to a noted Corvette buyer/dealer in southern Wisconsin. It’s been 41 years since then and I have often thought about why I did not borrow the money to buy this ’67. They only built 20 L-88 Corvettes that first year. But we already had a ’62 and a ’64, and no garage space—nor the time for it. The last I heard, Jack Douglas in Hinsdale, Illinois, owns it. I recall it’s current value as nearing (or surpassing) seven figures. And it could have been mine for $3,000 or less.”

Mark Lundquist: “Back in 1965 I had a chance to buy a bone stock 1962 360-horse fuel-injected Corvette with the four-speed. If I remember correctly, it had about 6,000 miles. It was maroon with black interior. A counter man at Blair’s Speed Shop in Pasadena, California, needed cash and was willing to sell it for $1,800 to the first person to come up with cash. At the time I had a pretty good job and the money in the bank. Trouble is, in those days there was no way to get cash from your bank except during business hours, which were 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. So I figured the car would be there the next day, and I had to work. I drew the cash out the second day and went to Blair’s Speed Shop only to find the owner closing the deal with another buyer. To this day that ’62 is still my favorite Corvette, but it’s now way out of my price range. I still wince when I see one at a car show. Maybe someday.”

Mike from Michigan: “Back from Vietnam in 1970, I bought a used ’68 Camaro 396/375 with a four-speed. Very fast. In 1971, bought my first 1970 LS6 Chevelle, automatic, black buckets, gunmetal grey. It cost $2,100 and had low miles. That car was stolen out of my garage and never recovered. In 1984, I bought my second 1970 LS6 Chevelle, white with black buckets. It ran in the 11.70 range with little suspension work and tires. I sold that Chevelle due to a divorce in late ’80s for around $5,500. All of them were street-driven. Miss them all and wish I had them now. Thanks for the great magazine and articles.”

Rick Tervo: “In the early ’80s I was about 20 years old when I left the backcountry of northern Michigan and headed for the bright lights of Phoenix, Arizona. I moved into an apartment off of Indian School Road. Across the alley from my apartment there was a weed-covered vacant lot with a few cars in it. One of them was a faded blue 1969 RS/SS convertible, needing some love. The top was either missing or down, and the interior was being destroyed by the elements. Often, when I had a day off I’d wander over and take a look, always thinking I’d try to figure out who owned it and see if I could buy it. The fact that I had no money held me back.

“One day I came home from work to see a guy with a flatbed loading it up. I went to ask him about it. He had been hired to “clean up the junk cars from this lot.” I asked him if I could buy it. He just smiled and said something about his Mama not raising any fools. Yeah, I guess my mama raised at least one …”

Garrell Patterson: “I used to buy or trade for super nice fast Chevys every six-to-eight months anytime something unusual came along. For example, I had a ’63 split window, fuel-injected coupe in 1970 that had only around 25,000 miles on it. I gave $1,100 for it and worried that I had too much in it because no one in this small rural area knew how to work on the F.I. I had a ’63 and ’64 SS 409 Impala, but the car that I liked the look of and the way it ran more than any was a red 1967 SS Impala with a 427 and a four-speed. It had a black vinyl roof, a 4.11 Posi-traction rear, and as long and heavy as it was it would pull both front wheels off the ground. I promise and I have witnesses.

“I bought the car from the original owner in 1970. I gave $1,000 for it and wanted to keep it, but a man kept making offer after offer to trade a really nice black ’59 Apache pickup and cash to get the car for his younger brother, who would be home from Vietnam in a few weeks. I don’t remember how much I got out of it, but pretty sure I got more than $1,000, plus the truck. Then I think I got $1,400 for the truck. I have a picture of the ’67 Impala hanging in the shop and I take a look at it almost every day, wishing I had it back just like it once was.”



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